The Finnish Financial Supervision Agency (FSA) supervises financial markets and market participants including banks, brokerage firms, investment banks, stock exchanges and mutual funds. It operates alongside the Bank of Finland, but is an independent authority with its own decision and rule making powers.

The current legislation authorizes the FSA to:

  • issue regulations and guidelines;
  • submit non-binding opinions;
  • carry out on-site inspections and have access to the necessary information connected with this supervisory role; and
  • participate in the preparation of new legislation and governmental decrees.

Recently, the FSA has become more active in expressing its views in the media. The agency wants to ensure that under new legislation, it is provided with adequate powers and more substantial means of action and sanctions. It promises to (i) increase the publication of supervisory measures with the aim of greater market transparency and public awareness, and (ii) actively promote and participate in international cooperation between the regulatory bodies.

Currently, the FSA gains access to sources and receives information regarding market abuses or securities crimes as part of its general supervisory role. But its resources and powers are limited, it may not conduct criminal investigations and it is not authorized to issue temporary restraining or stop orders, or penalties. The FSA's practice so far has been to issue and deliver unofficial and unpublicized 'bad boy' notices to market participants or issuers of securities in cases where it has found abusive or unsatisfactory market activity. Only the most serious cases have been submitted to the police and public prosecutors for criminal proceedings.

Now the FSA wants judicial powers, which traditionally have only been bestowed upon the courts. With these broader powers the FSA intends to tackle bad market practices at an early stage, before such actions can damage investors or public confidence in the securities market. However, any extension to the FSA's powers calls for an amendment to the current legislation and therefore may take some time.

For further information on this topic please contact Ari-Pekka Saanio at Borenius & Kemppinen by telephone (+358 9 615 33417) or by fax (+358 9 615 33593) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

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